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Low Oil Pressure! Perhaps It’s Only a Filter Screen
By: Mighty Auto Parts | Thursday, August 31st, 2017 at 6:57 pm in Filters, Motor Oil, Preventive Maintenance, Tech Tips

Low Oil Pressure! Perhaps It’s Only a Filter Screen

Your stomach drops when you see one of your dashboard lights come up—especially if it’s a warning you’ve never seen before. If it’s the Low Oil Pressure Message/Light, you might even panic. After all, the first assumption should be that you have no oil pressure, which will cause major engine damage. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Thus, if your Low Oil Pressure Message/Light comes on, STOP driving immediately and turn the engine off. After all, your engine can be severely damaged if oil pressure is lost. Your stomach drops when you see one of your dashboard lights come up—especially if it’s a warning you’ve never seen before. If it’s the Low Oil Pressure Message/Light, you might even panic. After all, the first assumption should be that you have no oil pressure, which will cause major engine damage. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Thus, if your Low Oil Pressure Message/Light comes on, STOP driving immediately and turn the engine off. After all, your engine can be severely damaged if oil pressure is lost.

There are many possible causes of low oil pressure:

  • A low oil level (check the dipstick)
  • Bad oil pump
  • Defective oil pressure sending unit
  • Defective oil pressure gauge

When you see the low oil pressure message appear, check the oil levels. If the oil level is normal, the suspect is usually a defective oil pressure sensor. Often, though, getting the sensor replaced fails to eliminate the illuminated message.  Most will now assume the condition is due to problems with the oil filter, oil pump, or even major engine damage. Some engines get major repairs in a futile attempt to eliminate the low oil pressure message only to later determine the symptoms were due to a lack of oil supplied to the oil pressure sensor.

For oil to reach the oil pressure sensor, the oil has to pass through an AFM oil filter screen. This hidden screen is a small filter positioned below the oil pressure sensor. While its purpose is to protect the AFM system, if the screen becomes clogged with debris or sludge, it can actually prevent enough oil from reaching the sensor, prompting the low oil pressure message.

The good news is that the filter screen can be easily cleaned with brake cleaner and low air pressure. However, because these screens are so inexpensive, most are simply replaced. The oil pressure sensor and filter screen can be removed without removing the intake—the procedure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer—which can be quite a challenge.

If you find your auto technician has to replace the mentioned filter screen due to sludge accumulation, you might want to consider a more frequent service interval. When you do, be sure to ask your auto technician for an extended life oil filter as well.

Make sure your vehicle is being serviced with quality parts. Mighty sources the highest quality auto parts from the world’s leading OE manufacturers, serving as the lynch-pin between manufacturers and professional technicians from coast-to-coast.

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6 responses to “Low Oil Pressure! Perhaps It’s Only a Filter Screen”

  1. Charles Stotts says:

    Do you have to use the screen on the oil pressure censor or can you just eliminate it?

  2. The purpose of the screen is to prevent contaminates from damaging the solenoids that control the Active Fuel Management (AFM) system.
    These solenoids are a part of the Valve Lifter Oil Manifold (VLOM) that switches the engine from an eight cylinder mode to a four cylinder for fuel economy.
    It just so happens the oil pressure sensor is mounted in the VLOM manifold directly above the filter screen, therefore many assume the screen is there to protect the oil pressure sensor.
    Its purpose is to protect the VLOM and the solenoids.
    When the screen is restricted it reduces oil flow to the oil pressure sensor and gives a low oil pressure warning.
    They should not remove the screen as it is there to protect the VLOM and related solenoids.
    A replacement screen cost approximately six dollars.

  3. Bruce says:

    I have to change the oil in my 2013 Avalanche at about 3,500 miles, otherwise this dang filter clogs. A GMC dealership suggested that I bring it in for oil changes at every 3,000 miles using the GM synthetic oil and hopefully that would remove the slug that clogs this filter. Sure, it didn’t clog when replacing the oil (and filter) at every 3,000 miles, but that is much earlier than what the onboard computer recommends. Replacing this little filter is no picnic… way in the back of the engine!

  4. Elvia Vega says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience Bruce!

  5. Tim says:

    When my engine reaches temperature the oil pressure drops.

  6. Elvia Vega says:

    Thank you for sharing Tim!

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